The job of being a hangman became a much sought after post in the mid 19th century and remained so until capital punishment ceased in 1964. Large numbers of applicants - including women - applied for each vacancy, and the position would possibly attract just as many applicants today if capital punishment were to be reintroduced. In 1879, when William Calcraft retired, the role of hangman ceased to be a salaried position. Instead, minimal fees were offered which did not increase even through to the abolition of hanging in the 1960's. Therefore, it may be a reasonable assumption to suppose that most of those who held the post of executioner did it not for financial gain, but for other, more personal, reasons.


Jack Ketch         Tyburn                  ????-1686  1663-1686 Became term used to refer to all hangman
George Smith       Dudley,The Midlands     1805-1874  1849-1873   
Robert Evans       North Wales             Unknown    1874-1875
George Incher      Dudley                  Unknown    1875-1881
William Calcraft   Chelmsford,Essex        1800-1879  1829-1874 Incorrect use of the Short Drop method
Thomas Askern      York (Not Proven)       Unknown    1853-1877
William Marwood    Horncastle,Lincolnshire 1820-1883  1874-1883 Invented Long Drop method
Bartholomew Binns  Unknown                 Unknown    1883-1884
James Berry        Heckmondwike,Yorkshire  1852-1913  1884-1892 Miscalc. drops, victims decapitated/strangled
Thomas H Scott     Huddersfield            Unknown    1892-1901
James Billington   Farnworth,Lancashire    1847-1901  1884-1901 Thomas Cream - claimed to be Jack the Ripper
Thomas Billington  Farnworth,Lancashire    1872-1902  1897-1901 Eldest son of James Billington
William Billington Farnworth,Lancashire    1873-1934  1902-1905 Middle son of the Billington's
John Billington    Farnworth,Lancashire    1880-1905  1902-1905 Youngest Billington. First hanging at Holloway
Henry Pierrepoint  Bradford,Yorkshire      1874-1922  1901-1910 Father of Albert Pierrepoint
John Ellis         Rochdale,Lancashire     1874-1932  1901-1923 Dr. Crippen, George Smith, Edith Thompson
William Willis     Accrington,Lancashire   187?-1939  1906-1926 
Tomas Pierrepoint  Bradford,Yorkshire      1870-1954  1906-1946 Brother of Henry Pierrepoint
Robert Wilson      Manchester              Unknown    1920-1936
Robert Baxter      Hertford                Unknown    1915-1935 
Alfred Allen       Wolverhampton           Unknown    1928-1937
Thomas M Phillips  Unknown                 Unknown    1918-1941
Stanley W Cross    Unknown                 Unknown    1932-1941 
Albert Pierrepoint Bradford,Yorkshire      1905-1992  1932-1956 Nevil Heath, Derek Bently, Ruth Ellis
Harry Kirk         Huntingdon              Unknown    1941-1950 Performed 1 hanging, assistant executioner 
Steve Wade         Doncaster               Unknown    1941-1955 
Harry Allen        Manchester              1911-1992  1941-1964 
Robert L Stewart   Edinburgh               1918-1988  1950-1964 
Syd Dernley        Nottingham              1920-1996  1949-1954

After working for The Galleries of Justice (Nottingham) as a Costumed Interpreter for a number of years, I've always found the history of execution a fascinating subject. My employment involved the donning of period Warder's costumes and treating members of the public as though they were newly admitted prisoners. In order to perform this role accurately, I had to study the history of English Gaols, Imprisonment, Transportation and Execution to quite some depth. After finding the notes that I made, researched from both books that I own and the records contained within Nottingham County Gaol Records Office, I have decided to offer this information as a write up in hope that others may find it of use, even if only for the morbid fascination that execution and its controller's hold.

The Records Office, Nottingham County Gaol, Nottingham
Diary of a Hangman by John Ellis
The Hangman's Tale by Syd Dernley
The Hangmen's Record 1868-1964 by Steve Fielding
The Book of Executions by James Bland

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